By Brent Huelsmann
The Nashville Hornets boys basketball team is headed back to the Sectional. The Hornets defeated Carlinville and Piasa (Southwestern) on their way to their second straight Regional crown. The Hornets were the top seed in their Regional, and the second overall seed in their sub-sectional. The Hornets began Sectional play against Pinckneyville on Tuesday, February 28
The Hornets first test of the postseason came from the host of the Regional, the Carlinville Cavaliers. Nashville capitalized on turnovers throughout the contest, ending the Cavaliers season with a 72-39 victory.
After falling behind 2-0 early, the Hornets would not trail again in the matchup. Nashville went on a 10-0 run to grab the lead, and by the time the first quarter was finished, the Hornets held a 16-7 advantage. Leading the way in the first was senior Langdon Briles, who converted on all four of his field goals in the first quarter, and had eight points.
In the second, the Hornets continued the onslaught. After Carlinville cut the Nashville lead to six points, Nashville quickly built the lead back up. After leading 16-10, the Hornets went on 15-0 run to pull away from the Cavaliers. The Hornets got contributions from up and down the lineup in the second, as four different players made a basket for Nashville. The Hornets were led by Carson Parker who finished with a team-high six points in the quarter. At half, the Hornets had built a 33-15 lead.
After halftime, the Cavaliers were able to keep pace with the Hornets, but still trailed by twenty points as the two teams headed into the final stanza. In the fourth, the Hornets put any doubts to bed. Nashville hit three three point baskets in the fourth, and outscored Carlinville 23-10. When the final buzzer sounded, the Hornets were able to clinch a spot in the Regional Championship game with a 72-39 victory.
After the game, Coach Brad Weathers talked about his team’s performance.”I thought defensively we did a nice job tonight and got a lot of turnovers. Offensively we were a little sluggish against the zone early, but finally got things rolling with their defense and once that happened I thought we played pretty well the rest of the way.”
The Hornets were led by Briles who finished with 16 points off the bench. Both Brogan Kemp and Ryan Brink joined Briles in double figures with 12 points apiece. Hayden Heggemeier, Bryce Bultman and Carson Parker each finished with six points in the win. Cameron Parker and Trevor Meier each finished with five points, while Tanner Bergmann rounded out the scoring with four points.
The win over Carlinville clinched a spot for the Hornets in the Regional Championship game. The Hornets would face off against Piasa (Southwestern). Again the Hornets would fall behind early, but would use a couple big runs to put away the Birds 52-29.
The Hornets trailed by as many as four early in the first quarter, but Nashville ended the first on a 10-0 run to take a 14-8 lead after the first. Heggemeier provided the spark in the early going, scoring seven points in the first quarter. In the second, the Hornets continued to build their lead. Nashville outscored Piasa 15-7 in the second quarter to take a 29-15 lead at the break.
The Hornets put the game away for good in the second half, as Nashville scored the first nine points of the second half to go up by 23 points. The rest of the way, the Hornets were able to cruise as the Nashville defense frustrated the Birds. As the teams headed to the fourth, the Hornets would hold a commanding 47-22 lead.
In the fourth, the Birds were able to outscore the Hornets, but the outcome was never in doubt. The Hornets were able to pull their starters as everyone on the bench got a chance to get in the game. The Hornets would win the Regional Championship with a score of 52-29 over the Piasa (Southwestern) Birds.
After the game, Coach Weathers credited his team’s defense. ““I thought the ballgame was our defense. I thought we really guarded our sets well, and it took away some things that they do very well. They run a lot of stuff in their man offense, and I thought we did a nice job of taking some of that away. The Baumgartner kid is a heck of a player, and the Bailey kid can really shoot it. They’ve got some people out there. I thought we had a lot of stops and a lot of hustle baskets tonight.”
Weathers also said he would not miss the haul up to Carlinville. ““I’m not going to miss this two hour bus ride. I’m not complaining that we came up here, they ran a heck of a tournament, it’s a really nice gym, but that was like packing for an overnight trip with packing supper for the kids, snacks and everything else. It was an adventure and the kids played through it. This was like a home game for Piasa. Their coach told me that they’ve actually played more games here than at home this year due to tournaments and country tournament so this was a home game for them.”
Brink led the Hornets with 17 points in the game. Brink was joined in double figures by Kemp who finished with 11 points. Heggemeier just missed out on double digits with nine points. Bultman finished with six points in the win, while Briles added five points. Brandon Schnitker scored four points for the Hornets to round out the scorers.
Before the Hornets tipped off in the Regional Championship game, the IHSA Class 2A Three Point Showdown was held. The top three participants would move on to the sectional round. Hornets’ senior Trevor Meier was the only Nashville shooter to advance out of Regionals. Meier will shoot before the Sectional Championship game in the next round of the Three Point Shootout on Friday, March 3.